It’s impossible to deny that sexuality, even in this day and age of TV-PG, plays a huge role in wrestling, particularly when it comes to the female entertainers. It’s a testament to fans for showing WWE that, through NXT, women’s wrestling should be taken seriously. But if we can be serious, none of those women would get a chance if there wasn’t some level of sex appeal involved. The days of a 40-year-old woman wrestling in a one-piece bathing suit are over and done. Hell, the days of seeing any out of shape wrestling is likely out of shape, as most of the top male Superstars look like Greek Gods.
The WWE may try to play it down, “real” wrestling fans may try to play it down and even the wrestlers themselves may try to play it down, but there is no downplaying the fact that women wrestlers are using their sexuality as a commodity...and they should. It’s not easy to make it in wrestling and keep their bodies in shape while also conveying a charisma many women don’t have is a skill. Many will pretend it’s not a skill, or not a skill they possess, but they’re playing coy because of who else has that skill...strippers.
We’re not going to debate the morality of stripping because everyone has their own opinion, but the undeniable fact is that strippers need to have many of the same characteristics as wrestlers. They need to be in shape, they need to have charisma and they need to be able to maintain a character. Is it any surprise that so many of the women in wrestling’s roots can be found on the poles of gentlemen’s clubs of North America?
Some of the women on this list are 100 percent confirmed and some are rumors with very strong evidence suggesting a clothing-removal past. Here are 15 wrestling divas who have allegedly been strippers:
15 Ryan Shamrock
She wasn’t in the wrestling world for a very long time, but the faux sister of Ken Shamrock was a looker and if you happened to be fan of Houston strip clubs before the WWE made the call to give the former UFC fighter a sibling, you saw a lot more of the real-life Alicia Webb. Val Venis introduced her as a fellow adult entertainer whom he had met while filming the fictitious skin flick Shaving Ryan’s Privates. Her “brother” didn’t last long in the WWE once the shoot fighter fad was over and Webb didn’t last long either. She spent a few months as “Symphony” in WCW and had a very brief run in TNA as Aleesha. Aside from a few independent shows and as Sean Waltman’s valet in Mexico’s AAA promotion, Webb faded from the pro wrestling scene.
14 Shelly Martinez
She’s probably more famous for her real name than either of the wrestling names she’s gone by, but whatever we call her, there’s no denying this woman is beautiful and the fact she doesn’t seem to have a problem with losing her clothes puts her in our good graces even further. Shelly Martinez wasn’t just a wrestler’s girlfriend who got a spot on national TV. She worked her way up through the indies and Ohio Valley Wrestling before making her debut on the bastardized version of ECW, playing a vampire-like character named Ariel. She was released, claiming it had to do with a confrontation with Batista. Martinez moved onto TNA where she managed LAX under the name of Salinas. She still appears on indy shows occasionally, that is when she’s not making films such as The Notorious Jewel De’Nyle & Shelly Martinez, a fetish adult film with nudity, clothespins and spanking. While we miss her in wrestling, we’re not complaining about her career choices.
13 Beulah McGillicutty
Before Trisa Hayes became Trisa Laughlin - or in wrestling terms - before Beulah McGillicutty became Mrs. Tommy Dreamer, she was a stripper and model. Her big break actually came in meeting Brian Pillman, whom she briefly dated and got a taste for the business appearing as his sister in Stampede Wrestling. She returned to the adult entertainment world, working as a stripper and nude model, appearing in magazines like High Society, Penthouse and a pictorial in Cheri that broke the Internet in the early days of ECW. After a chance meeting with Raven, she expressed her interest to get back into wrestling and an introduction to Paul Heyman sent Hayes’ life on a trajectory that wrestling fans still talk about to this day.
12 Kimona Wanalaya
When your most remembered moment in wrestling is actually performing a striptease in front of a packed ECW Arena and you look like you know what you’re doing, odds are you had a professional background and that was true of Kristina Laum, who worked for about a year with the hardcore organization under the not-so-subtle name Kimona Wanalaya. One night, depending on which story you believe, either a problem with the ring or a problem with the production equipment caused a delay in the main event. Paul Heyman asked Laum to perform a striptease while the problem got resolved. Ever the professional, she agreed. After leaving ECW she actually had a longer run in WCW has Leia Meow and worked a few indies before disappearing.
11 Tammy Sytch
Stripping is usually a way that a young, good looking woman makes money for whatever her reason. In looking at the women on this list, many were discovered while they were strippers or it was a piece of their modeling background that eventually led to the squared circle. If there was a movie called The Tammy Sytch Story and you ran it backward, it would be a magnificent movie about overcoming the odds. In reality, the WWE’s first Diva and the one-time most downloaded woman on the Internet spends her nights at home, performing shows for her fans via Skype. Maybe this doesn’t make her a stripper in the most traditional sense of the word, but she’s taking money for showing her goods in a live environment.
She was never the best female wrestler, but for Season One Tough Enough winner Nidia Guenard, her charisma and ability to play whatever role was asked to play, most notably as the trailer trash queen to Jamie Noble’s redneck boyfriend, helped her carve out on a role on WWE television. Guenard, who only went by “Nidia” once making it up to the big show, admitted to being a stripper before auditioning for Tough Enough. She got breast implants in 2003, almost a staple for WWE Divas at the time. This was long after her stripping years had ended, but she got rid of them removed shortly after leaving wrestling. She is now married with two kids and is a master chef.
9 Missy Hyatt
When you learn that Missy Hyatt was a stripper before entering wrestling, some of her decisions make a lot more sense. With a reputation behind the scenes that made her popular among the more morally ambiguous wrestlers, Hyatt could be seen as a trendsetter with her sexualized bimbo character years before The Attitude Era or as setting women back, portraying herself as little more than blonde hair and big boobs. Hyatt never stayed in one area too long, often directly tied to whatever wrestler she was dating at the time. Her longest stint came with WCW, which she ironically left charging sexual harassment, but did time with plenty of territory companies in the 1980s and also had a failed tryout with WWE and showed up on ECW at the tail end of her career. When the wrestling jobs started drying up, she and fellow has-been Tammy Sytch launched a website where they charged users to see videos of them stripping.
8 April Hunter
Hunter caught the wrestling bug after being pegged to appear as one of the nWo Girls, a group of women with large breasts who accompanied the nWo to the ring in the waning years of the group when people stopped caring. After that experience, she enrolled in wrestling school with Killer Kowalski near Boston. For fans of the female form, she caught the taking her clothes off bug well before ever appearing in a wrestling ring and has appeared in plenty of skin magazines and naked on the Internet. It is rumored that she has appeared as the “special attraction” at gentlemen’s clubs. But does she strip? On her website, Hunter advertises a video for sale with the description of “April and her big-breasted friends strip for you!” Question answered. Thanks, April.
She may be among the least-known women on this list, but the one-time ECW and WCW valet made quite a stir on the Internet for a short time when an alleged adult video of the former stripper showed up on the Internet. After briefly working on the independent scene as “Brittany Bottoms,” the real-life Denise Riffle became “Chastity” upon entering ECW where her only major storyline was a feud with Tommy Dreamer’s valet, and fellow list-mate, Beulah McGillicutty. She was hired by WCW to work with a few of her former ECW buddies, Raven and Sandman, but once the hardcore wrestling fad ran its course in WCW, she headed back to the indies and into obscurity.
6 Gorgeous George
When you go through this list and look into a lot of these stripper-becomes-valet women’s stories, it almost always has a similar storyline: Wrestler X met Stripper Y and got her into the business. Nowhere is this more clear than with Stephanie Bellars, who sullied the name of wrestling legend Gorgeous George by stealing the moniker and accompanying then-boyfriend Randy Savage to the ring. You’ll remember Savage as the guy who got his first wife, Elizabeth, into wrestling. When Savage dumped her, she was released from WCW and showed up for the last few months of ECW’s life. She worked indies for a couple of years, but settled down after marrying the guitarist of punk band The Misfits.
When some wrestlers retire, they get into the business end of the business on the creative team or as a trainer. Why should it be any different for strippers? Donna Adamo had made a name for herself on the NY/NJ gentlemen’s scene for several years at clubs like Goldfingers and Billy Dean’s before going to work for ECW as Elektra. After her five-year wrestling career (which included a couple of spots in the early, and aptly named for her, TNA) ended, Adamo became a booker for clubs, including Satin Dolls in New Jersey. Elektra appeared as a stripper-extra on several episodes of The Sopranos and in a Playboy pictorial of the extras called “Girls of the Bada-Bing” which was the fictitious nightclub in the HBO show.
4 Christy Hemme
Several years after making her professional wrestling debut, having won the 2004 Divas Search and appearing on the cover of the 2005 WrestleMania issue of Playboy (that was actually a thing back in the TV-14 era...and now even Playboy is going PG...sigh), a photo popped up online that had everyone wondering if Christy Hemme had spent time as a stripper. After an exhaustive study of that photo, comparing it with known nude photos of Hemme, we’ve come to a conclusion: we like looking at picture of Christy Hemme with as few clothes as possible. She’s never confirmed nor denied she worked as a stripper and when someone doesn’t deny that kind of thing, it makes you wonder. After two years with the WWE, she moved on to TNA, where she has made a career for almost 10 years now, most recently as part of the creative team.
Oh, how we wish there was photographic proof this happened, but there’s no reason to doubt it since Lita herself confirmed it herself in Lita: A Road Less Traveled, her autobiography released by the WWE. In the book, she recounted how a bunch of her friends were going to travel to Europe but she didn’t have enough money. One of her friends danced in a Washington DC club and offered her a shot on stage. Once she earned enough money for the trip, she put her bra back on and didn’t take it off again until the her in-ring sex show with Edge years later.
2 Traci Brooks
Traci Brooks, a native of Ontario, Canada, can boast that she is the only women to be photographed by Playboy while also serving as a TNA Knockout. The company actually brokered the deal, but the magazine ended up passing on running the photos in the magazine and instead debuted them on the Internet in 2009. Brooks, who was working as a promotional model for various Canadian beer companies and as a gentlemen’s entertainer, got into wrestling in 2001 and while she never made it to the WWE, she did have a great career with TNA. She managed husband Frankie Kazarian (who was teaming with Christopher Daniels) for the last time in July 2015, having announced her retirement from wrestling. We don’t expect her to return to clothing-less endeavours, but we can always hope.
1 Gail Kim
Gail Kim should have been huge in WWE and she had two chances, but for some reason, things never clicked and she doesn’t have many nice things to say about her time in that company. Between her stints with the company, she worked for a Korean cell phone company as a topless model, showing off the breasts she had augmented before entering the wrestling world. It’s unknown if she did it for wrestling or for her time as an alleged stripper in her home country of Canada, however brief that may have been. Kim had two much more successful runs in TNA than she did with her two stints in WWE. Now pushing 40 and recently married to celebrity chef Robert Irvine, it’s hard to believe that Kim will ever reach the heights she saw in her wrestling career again.
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